Longview residents jolted by paving estimate

December 28, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Ten Longview Heights residents -- faced with the cost of building a county road or another year of dealing with driveways full of dirt, stone and ruts -- are deciding which direction to take.

Most residents of the small Eldersburg community are balking at the cost of county convenience despite being eager to pave Longview Drive before it ruins their vehicles.

Property owners on the private street off Mineral Hill Road asked the county to assume ownership of the narrow gravel road and pave it. The county agreed, but the estimate for bringing the road up to county standards was nearly $91,000.

"For the county to accept a road into its system, it must meet minimum standards," said Howard Noll, chief of the Bureau of Engineering. "That includes the minimum 18-foot road width. We would be starting from scratch here."

As Longview travels 700 hilly feet, it frequently narrows to about 10 feet. The county width requirements would take parts of several front yards.

Joseph Gibson, who owns the most road frontage, would also lose a double row of towering pine trees.

"My trees would be on the right of way," Mr. Gibson said.

"Cutting them would change the whole atmosphere of the property."

After about a month of field work, surveying and staking the property, the county estimated the project at $90,982, which included the survey costs. The county would pay 25 percent, with homeowners sharing the balance.

Based on road frontage, their share ranges from $1,434 to $14,869 per owner.

Each resident would have 10 years to repay a no-interest loan.

The residents said private contractors would tar and chip the drive for far less.

If they take that route, the county may be stuck with a set of road construction plans it can't use.

"This happens two or three times a year," Mr. Noll said. "The county specs are more expensive. Once we do the computations, people find it hard to afford."

Carol Gaidula, a Longview resident for 18 years, said, "We need help from the county, but the bid is just too high."

With 110 feet of road frontage, her share of the cost would be about $6,300. Adding $630 a year to her $1,300 county property tax bill doesn't make sense, she said.

"We don't have the market value to be paying that kind of money," said Ms. Gaidula, a real estate agent.

Mr. Gibson asks why "a road that goes nowhere costs so much to fix."

He also questions ownership of a road under which the county has run water lines.

Several Longview Heights deeds list residents' ownership to the center of the road.

When six of the 10 owners -- one less than needed under county regulations -- appeared at a public hearing last week, no vote could be taken on the proposal. Officials require approval from two-thirds of the street's residents before putting the job out to bid.

Ms. Gaidula and Mr. Gibson said they expected two homeowners whose driveways empty into Mineral Hill Road at the top of Longview to vote against the proposal. They are hoping to gather an agreement among the remaining eight to share the costs equally.

Ms. Gaidula said she is unsure how many will be receptive to that idea.

"We used to put gravel down every few years, but then we couldn't get everyone to agree to that," she said.

Without a consensus, Ms. Gaidula said, the residents remain grateful to the county for the survey and the estimate, but they would have to say "no, thanks."

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